at the Sugarcane Restaurant

Jambalasi came about just four years ago because, as founder Edgar Fitzgerald puts it - there were always musical instruments around the house, and as the younger members of his family expressed an interest in them - well - the rest is history.  The Jambalasi quartet itself spans three generations.  Edgar, on percussions, is grandfather to 15 year-old Brooklyn High School of the Arts tenth-grader Kareem Thompson, who delighted diners at the Sugarcane Restaurant with his dexterous handling of the tenor and double seconds steelpans on a chilly Wednesday evening on January 8, 2003.  He also plays keyboards and drums.  Edgar Fitzgerald's twin sons who are majoring in music and audio engineering at Queensboro Community College - Iba and Toure Fitzgerald - rounded out the foursome on bass and keyboards respectively.

Sugarcane patrons were treated to delightful servings of mixed musical morsels including 'Misty'; Joe Henderson's 'Blue Bosa'; 'Streetlife'; 'There Could Never Be Another You'; 'Donna Lee'; 'The Way You Look Tonight'; 'Old Man Loka Woman'; and one of the group's four original pieces jointly penned by twins Iba and Toure - 'Turn Around'.  Jambalasi's founder admits that he enjoys 'sitting back' and letting the younger members of the quartet call the shots when it comes to deciding the band's repertoire on gigs.

The age of twelve marked the entry of Edgar Fitzgerald's into the world of music in Trinidad where he was born.  He started playing music with the Highlanders Steelband, and after eventually settling on percussions, years later in1968 while on tour with the Roy Berridge music band, he opted to remain in New York. 

The musical family sometimes goes out as a musical ensemble with keyboard, guitar, percussions and pan.  But when they perform as an all pan quartet, the Guitar, Double Guitar, Double Tenors (Edgar and Toure Fitzgerald), Tenor and Double Second (both Iba Fitzgerald and Kareem Thompson) are the pans of choice for Jambalasi.  The pan quartet is more in demand for beach parties, and sometimes for corporate callings.  Playing out or 'gigging' is fairly lucrative for Jambalasi.

While admittedly being influenced by modern jazz quartets, Edgar's steelpan icon is Bertie Marshall from the 'home of the Steelpan', whom he grew up with and who now also tunes Jambalasi's pans.  Grandson Kareem has a varied listening palette including Hip Hop, Calypso, R&B, Reggae and Jazz - and is convinced that including pan as a mainstream instrument in hip hop and R&B would make the 'music sound better'.  He's also played the New York Panorama circuit with the larger steel orchestras such as Despers USA, CASYM and Sonatas, and last played with Metro Steel Orchestra for the 2002 Panorama.

Unlike the experiences of many pan players in New York, where people who are unfamiliar with the instrument, usually equate the steelpan with "those pans or drums people beat in the subway", Edgar says the group's many audiences are quite aware of the instrument, and welcome the chance to bring their younger family members around for a first hand experience of how the sound emanates from the steelpan.  He takes the opportunity to give them a brief history lesson on the instrument.

Jambalasi is looking forward to putting out its CD, which would include some of their own original material.  They may be contacted at 718-235-3141.

View video clip of Jambalasi's January 8 performance at the Sugarcane

By CP - Basement Press Release Writer


2003 Basement Recordings, Inc. All rights reserved.



Date: 01.15.03




(l-r) EDGAR FITZGERALD on Percussion; KAREEM THOMPSON on Tenor & Double Second; TOURE FITZGERALD on Keyboards; IBA FITZGERALD on Bass
at the Sugarcane while patrons dine


EDGAR and grandson, KAREEM


 after their session at Sugarcane